Friday, August 9, 2013


Secure email services Lavabit and Silent Mail shut down.

Another secure email service,Silent Mail, is going the way of Lavabit, the service reportedly used by Edward Snowden that abruptly shut down.

Lavabit shut down: Letter from Lavabit owner Ladar Levison and, inset, Levison
Letter from Lavabit owner Ladar Levison and, inset, Levison.
Encrypted communication service Silent Circle announced Friday that it is killing its secure email service Silent Mail, a day after news that Lavabit, the email service reportedly used by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, had mysteriously shut down.

Silent Circle's CTO, Jon Callas, said in a blog post that the decision to shut down Silent Mail was made after the Lavabit closure to ensure that customer privacy was not at risk.

"We see the writing [on] the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now," Callas wrote. "We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now."

"We knew the USG would come after us due to the sheer amount of people who use us – let alone the 'highly targeted high profile people,'" Silent Circle CEO Michael Janke told Tech Crunch.

Lavabit founder Ladar Levison didn't offer specific details about the Lavabit closure, except to say in a blog post that he had "been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit."

Levison, who didn't return requests for comment, said he had decided to suspend operations after "significant soul searching." He added that he legally couldn't discuss the events that led to him to shut down the service, which offers users a number of features — including asymmetrical encryption — to make their email secure.

Lavabit sprung to attention last month when Snowden used an email account from the service to invite human rights workers and lawyers to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport "for a brief statement and discussion regarding the next steps forward in my situation."

Levison has set up the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund to raise money to fight before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to reopen his company.

"A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company," Levison said.

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